When you visit a city it can be really overwhelming deciding how to see as much as possible in the time you’ve got. Losing time reading subway maps, figuring out bus timetables or crammed into train carriages just isn’t practical. Another great option for sightseeing is to join up on a group bike tour or charter your very own bike tour by hiring a bike or using a city’s bicycle share system if they have one. It gives you the chance to see more, spend more time on the move, discover hidden parts of a city, be eco-friendly and, best of all, stay healthy while you travel by getting your blood pumping!
Here’s my list of the seven best cities in the world to explore by bicycle. What are your favourite cities to explore by bike?
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
There is no denying it, Amsterdam is the original home of cool people on bicycles. Everywhere you go, there’s a mountain of bicycles whizzing past or being chained up en-masse like some sort of bicycle S & M club. You cannot go to Amsterdam and not get at least one amazing photo of a bicycle near one of the canals and the truth is, it’s awesome! It’s great for the environment, bicycles are accessible for people to buy and it keeps congestion down too. If you ride a bike in any city, make it Amsterdam.
The Danish capital is one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, with many rental shops dotted around the place ready for tourists to hire and ride. With so many people riding bikes, and with some 400km’s of designated bike lanes it’s a safe and fun way to get around and explore this beautiful city. Riding a bike here will see you immersed in the Scandinavian lifestyle and you won’t be able to help but be a little bit hipster-chic. BYO skinny jeans and top-knotch.
Here’s the thing about visiting Paris, if you haven’t been before you’re going to want to see as much of it as possible. Getting from one place to another will probably mean you have to catch the metro, which takes you underground. That’s crucial sightseeing time wasted! One of the best ways to see Paris is by bike, it also gives you a chance to wear one of those gorgeous a-line skirts and a soft blouse with ballet flats, put a baguette in your front basket and pretend you really are a Parisian lady. The city has a bike share system, “Velib,” which makes it easy to hire one for an evening cycle along the Seine. Absolute perfection.
Berliners know how to ride! The cool thing about exploring this city by bicycle is you can take one of the most historically important routes of your life, following the Berlin Wall Trail. The trail runs mostly along the former patrol road used by customers officers in West Berlin and along roads used by GDR border troops for their own patrols. It will take you past traces or remains of the old wall and stretches of natural beauty that highlight the country regaining its unity.
The good people of Montreal have a bike share system known as ‘Bixi’, making it easy for tourists to hire a bike and explore. You can also find and map out your cycle routes using PedalMontreal. There are a huge number of bike-friendly accommodations available and you’ll find no shortage of trails and designated bike lanes, with some 5,000 kilometres of bikeways. A great way to work off all the wine and poutine you’ll be ingesting while you’re there.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you want to live life on the edge you should definitely hire a bike in a bustling Asian city and try your hand at mixing it with the locals. Chiang Mai is a great place to start as they’re used to seeing tourists getting around and it’s less hectic than a bigger city like Bangkok. You can easily hire a bike and navigate your way through the Old City, using the remnants of the wall as a boundary guide. Heck, you could even plan yourself a pretty nice Pad Thai crawl, stopping to eat Pad Thai ever few kilometres. What a way to spend a day.
Gold Coast, Australia
I can’t write this list without throwing in a few shoutouts to my home state. There is nothing quite like waking up with the sunrise, jumping on a bike and starting the day by slowly riding along the pathways parallel to the beach. There are around 800km’s of designated bike paths on the Gold Coast now and I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning than riding along the coastline with a picture-perfect ocean to your side and loads of cafes to stop at for coffee and breakfast. It’s the perfect spot to jump on a cool vintage cruiser, like the ones at 99 Bikes, and just ride. Just be sure to get up early because once you hit 10am that Queensland heat will scorch you!
Just a quick note, if you do hire a bike anywhere in the world it’s really, really important you understand the road rules clearly and take safety precautions. This means wearing the right gear for cycling including protective clothing and a helmet as well as being SunSmart! It can be really easy to get carried away and lose focus when you’re somewhere new so make sure you’re just as diligent as you are at home.